US Road Trip Epilog: 17th August 2005

Time for a change of location. Of all the big hotel / motel chains, Holiday Inn are one of the few that actually let you join their rewards programme - Priority Club - even if you're not a US citizen. When I returned to the UK for a while after the first road trip there were a few Priority Club cards waiting for me, and I've been using one of them this time around. So much so that I now qualify for a free night.

A short cab ride later and I'm installed up on the 8th floor. I've stayed at this Holiday Inn Express before, and always been surprised by the constant queues in the lobby - worse, obviously, during peak hours - to talk to the one painfully slow person on duty. Still, as a freeloader I can't really complain.

Union Station just before a thunderstorm
Union Station just before a thunderstorm. It's been converted into a hotel as all the trains through here now seem to be freight.

As an alternative to the usual I think I'll try the Mercy Lounge tonight. It's only a short walk from where I'm staying - just as well, as it's still raining - and the band on tonight should offer something a bit different.

Deep South are a collection of southern rock musicians assembled from famous bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special. You could see this a supergroup, or you could see it as a bunch of cast-offs from more successful outfits. Personally I suspect that they're just the ones who didn't go out on their motorbikes much or get on the wrong plane.

Deep South on stage at the Mercy Lounge
Deep South on stage at the Mercy Lounge. Yes, I know it's a lousy photo - I had a crap view, and can't take photos indoors to save my life, so what do you expect?

$10 to get in and initially I'm very disappointed. Then, about three songs in, a second drummer comes into view and I know that everything is alright with the world and southern rock in particular. I don't know how many of them are on stage at any given point - every time I move somewhere else I see another lurking behind a pillar - but I suspect around a dozen. Quite why the Mercy Lounge doesn't raise the stage a few feet is a bit of a mystery.

The music is pretty good, and certainly gets the crowd going. This isn't a typical Nashville crowd. I suspect very few tourists and quite a lot of people who drive pickups. Not the kind of place to get into an argument, that's for sure.

I'm completely distracted (no, not by the pretty girls this time) by the guy centre-stage in the above photo, playing guitar and singing. He does bear quite a resemblance to George W. even if you'd never know it from my photo. I know George W. is currently on a 5-week vacation, and supposedly on his ranch back in Texas, but I can't help thinking that maybe he's getting a second income from playing with Deep South. I think I'll call the IRS when I'm back in my motel and let them know. After all, tax evasion is how they eventually put Al Capone behind bars.

After rousing versions of Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird I think I'll make my excuses and leave before barstools and fists start flying. That probably isn't going to happen but given the amount of barging and pushing in the crowd (unusual in the US, in my experience), and the amount of beer flowing, I'm not taking any chances.

US Road Trip Epilog: 18th August 2005 >